The Psychological Damage Of Working For a Stupid Sales Manager


There was once a day when sales managers were the absolute best of the best in sales. 

They often had to be forced into management because they knew it was a pay cut and they hated the paperwork and process. But many made the move knowing they had to do it as a step into much greater responsibility.

They taught their great moves to those who came behind. Encouragement and leadership were palpable. Many of us remember one or two of them who gave us skills which made us financially independent. Going to work was so much fun we hated Fridays. Literally, we hated Fridays because the selling week was over.

Things are different now. The clueless move to sales management because they hate sales, maybe had a couple of decent, lucky quarters, probably would suck at it if they had to do it for long.

These current sales managers have zero sales moves and drive salespeople like the metrics-driven robots.

Their sales reps loathe their jobs and turnover is often 40% or more a year.

It is widely reported that over 60% of B2B sales reps do not make their quota. There are a lot of reasons for that, none of them has to do with people today having less talent than decades ago. The difference is the market in B2B tech sales is pretty mature and selling is harder.

Perhaps selling isn’t harder; rather it is harder to get in front of the prospect. All that said, selling today is particularly difficult.

It is even more difficult if you work for someone stupid.

One of the things that makes it really hard is the prevalence of really stupid sales managers, from the line level to the Sales VP, or as she likes to be called, the Chief Revenue Officer.

What is particularly interesting, and sad, is the psychological damage many people are getting from working for that really stupid manager.

Let’s do a baseline here people. 

Stupid means forcing the sales team to do things that do not work, have not worked in a generation then harassing them at the end of the quarter for missed revenue and firing them when they do not produce it.

It is like forcing that fish to climb the tree then punishing it when it cannot. 

The equivalent today is metrics driven sales.

Quantity is measurable. Quality is abstract.

Selling, in the B2B space is selling to humans. As humans, prospects do not really want to be a number, particularly a quarterly number.

Prospects, as humans, do not want to be harassed when they say “….not interested.” They do not want to be faked out like using a fake area code so they pick up your cold call thinking it may be the cancer screening call.

Humans want to be treated as humans. 

Marketing machines, particularly and universally VC-funded companies, can only do “fake-humanity.” That means digging through someone’s social media posts, faking that you have some obscure thing in common, then pitching them the next week for a meeting.

It is all fake. And fake is stupid because it is unscalable and even the few times it gets through, it does not last. This is the world of the transaction-led sales manager and his or her quarterly number.

Our purpose here is not to get into why such tactics fail. The fact that everyone knows they fail, yet uses them nonetheless, is testament that nobody has a better idea.


Why are so few, if any, sales reps breaking through with new selling techniques to get to the right person, when they want to buy, make their case and win the sale?

The reason is that stupidity, at the sales manager level, has so ossified sales teams that they are either afraid to innovate at the point of sale or they know it will not be measured. Thus, they will be penalized for being smart.

As humans, particularly in sales, we want to do what works. What works is what prospects respond to and that is NEVER scammy stuff. 

When stupid Sales VPs demand daily email counts, daily cold call counts, have revenue dashboards and over-invest in Sales Ops, you know you have really stupid people in place.

Thus, you, the sales rep cannot do the human thing. You cannot do what the prospect probably likes because your life is lived in quarters. The prospect’s life is not calibrated to those same quarters.

When a human who wants to do the human thing cannot, they loathe their job. They stick in it because pretty much all these jobs are the same. They hate going to work and love Fridays because it is over for a few hours.

They hate the end of every quarter because that mindless Sales VP wants to know your “commit” and if a customer is out that week and cannot sign an order, how “…are you going to make up that revenue?”

As one of our friends recently said: “…tech sales today is just soul crushing.”

It does not have to be. However, as long as we have really stupid sales management, forcing reps to do what never works, many souls will be crushed.